While we should rejoice in our state’s observation of this holiday, it is important to understand why the State of New Jersey is officially celebrating this holiday for the first time and how it relates to the struggle for freedom and equality, the values and principles that are at the very core of the labor movement.
Governor Murphy signed Juneteenth into law as a State holiday on September 10, 2020 in response to last year’s protests for racial justice. When we think about the role unions play in society, we generally believe it is about negotiating and enforcing contracts to fight for good wages and benefits. However, unions also fight for social justice, and it is therefore no surprise that the labor movement supported the Union during the Civil War to abolish slavery.
This Juneteenth we celebrate the end of a tyrannical system and remember that the struggle against racial inequality continues. We can be proud of our state for standing on the right side of history.
The Labor movement has been at our most powerful when we understand that our fight for workers’ rights doesn’t begin or end in the workplace. If our fight stopped at the workplace, we’d at best be leaving the work half done, and at worst be indifferent to the way injustices in the workplace are but a microcosm of an unequal society.
The Union can be a great equalizer. Our members receive the same protections, the same wages and benefits, and the same stronger voice at work when they have a union contract that treats everyone the same regardless of race, gender, or background. We will always stand together as a Union to fight for the rights of every member.
The labor movement continues to fight for equal pay, equal rights, and social justice. CWA 1036 is committed to helping to build that movement. As communicated in the celebration of Juneteenth, we are not free until we are all free. If you would like to get more involved with the Local’s Civil Rights and Equity Committee, please contact your staff representative.
To achieve lasting progress, join our union today and help us continue the fight for racial justice. All you need to do is complete the attached digital membership card, return it to your steward or union representative by email, and find out how you can get involved today!
If you want to learn more about the Civil War and how its struggle ties to the labor movement, please watch this video hosted by Princeton University’s Associate Professor of History, Matthew Karp, Gravel Institute: https://youtu.be/BK1cyndeuNs.
CWA Local 1036 Membership Committee & Civil Rights and Equity Committee